Staff Editorial

“School work, extra-curricular activities,
part-time jobs, repeat.” This
seems to be the normal routine for
many juniors and seniors in high
school striving for success in the form
of a diploma and acceptance into the
college of their choice. But with all
these different entities requiring a
substantial amount of time and effort,
many students find themselves
stretched too thin, hoping that they do
not break under the pressure. So the
question arises, is this stress healthy
for a growing adolescent?
In its 2011 State of College Admissions
Report, The National Association
for College Admissions Counseling
(NACAC) found that more high
school students are beginning to apply
to college than ever before. This could
be due to a variety of factors, one being
that a higher education is now
seen as necessary to achieve economic
success in the future. With the growing
number of prospective students,
the applicant pools for many colleges
have become more competitive and
college acceptance rates have subsequently
plummeted.
It can be heard everywhere, whether
it’s the University of Notre Dame
boasting, “this is the most competitive
pool of applicants we have ever seen”
or The College of William and Mary
telling prospective students that they
are “looking for the ideal, well rounded
scholar.” In this day and age, it is not
enough to receive good grades and be
involved in a couple of clubs that one
is wholeheartedly interested in. In an
effort to be “the ideal scholar,” many
students find themselves scrambling to
sign up for anything that might appeal
to a particular university and enrolling
in the hardest classes offered at their
high schools.
In attempting to balance school,
sports and other activities, students
begin to feel stress trying to fit everything
into their busy schedules. The
American Psychological Association
(APA) found that, on average, teens
reported their stress level to be 5.8 on
a 10-point scale while adults’ average
reported stress level was 5.1. The
APA’s Stress in America survey found
that 30 percent of teenagers reported
feeling sad or depressed because of
stress, 36 percent said that stress makes
them tired and 23 percent said they
have skipped meals because of it.
The study also found a correlation
between the reported stress and
school as 83 percent of teenagers said
that school was a, “somewhat significant
source of stress.”
Could this reported stress have a
correlation with the rising expectations
to which colleges and universities
are now holding their applicants?
Well, if many students’ route to the
completion of high school include a
college acceptance letter, and school
and academic success is the means of
achieving that letter, than yes, there is
a connection.
Yes, students are getting more involved
in their schools and communities,
but should this involvement
be at the expense of their mental and
physical health? A student who is
stressed and depressed is less than
the ideal “well-rounded scholar” colleges
are seeking. There is no definitive
answer as to what could be done
to end this vicious cycle of stress and
breakdown, yet one thing is for sure:
if colleges continue to see a rise in the
number of applicants, it is certain that
there will be a rise in stressed-out-onthe-
verge-of-depression students.
4/4 managing editors agree

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Author: The Hawk Eye

Hanover High School, Mechanicsville, Virginia The Hawk Eye Student Newspaper thehawkeye@hcps.us

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